The Braves should make Johnny Damon an Adrian Beltre offer

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Dave O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution spends some time imagining Johnny Damon in a Braves uniform, observing that Atlanta could afford to sign him if they could do a one- or
two-year below $10 million. And he thinks that Damon would consider it because (a) he hasn’t received better offers; and (b) he’s told some
people he’d like to play for the Braves, who train near his Orlando
home.

My take: at this point there should be several teams calling Scott Boras with an Adrian Beltre-type offer:  one year at around $9 million with an option for year two. That may actually be high for Damon given his inferior defense and the relative lack of interest in him compared to Beltre, but in light of what happened with Beltre and Boston, Damon is suddenly in the realm of the doable for a lot of teams who might not have otherwise looked at him before.

O’Brien wonders whether if, at those prices, the Yankees might come back into the Damon raffle (“sweepstakes” is too grand a word for him).  It’s possible, especially in light of Boston signing Beltre — never underestimate the power of an arms race — but Brian Cashman’s “stand pat” talk seems a bit more convincing this year than it has in years past.

DOJ settles antirust lawsuit against cable companies who don’t carry Dodgers games

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Last November, the U.S. Department of Justice sued AT&T, accusing its subsidiary, DirecTV, of being the ringleader in a plot in which it conspired with Cox Communications, Charter Communications and AT&T cable (then a separate company), to refuse to carry SportsNet LA, the Dodger-owned TV channel in violation of antitrust laws.

Now that lawsuit is over. The DOJ settled with AT&T last night.

The bad news: no part of the settlement obligates DirecTV or any of the other alleged co-conspirators to carry Dodgers games or to even negotiate to that end. There is likewise no fine or truly substantive penalty. It’s basically a “do not do this again!” agreement with some antitrust training requirements for executives and some orders to monitor their communications about these things.

“We are pleased to have resolved this matter to the satisfaction of all parties,” an AT&T spokesman said yesterday, likely in the tone of a guy who is pretty happy to have had a major antitrust suit against him settled so quickly.

When the suit was filed, I anticipated a settlement, as most antitrust suits brought by the DOJ are settled. Such a settlement could’ve featured a cash penalty or, more significantly, a brokered agreement between the parties in question in lieu of a cash settlement that could’ve led to Dodgers games being carried on more channels. After all, more competition is the end game of the Antirust Division.

As it is, however, it’s hard to see this as anything other than a surrender by the DOJ and a victory for the those carriers who coordinated their efforts to not carry the Dodgers.

An open question, unanswered in anyone’s statements yesterday, is whether this settlement is 100% about the merits of the case — keeping in mind that the DOJ tends not to file antitrust suits unless they think they can win, instead preferring to negotiate first — or whether it represents a new set of laxer priorities when it comes to antitrust enforcement from the Trump Administration and AG Jeff Sessions.

Video: Jake Arrieta hits a 465-foot home run off of Zack Greinke

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Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.

The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.

Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.

Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.